A guide to fixers - how they make things happen
If you’re filming abroad, especially in remote countries, chances are you’ll require the assistance of a fixer – someone who is familiar with a particular country, to help you with logistics, translation, location and crew sourcing. A fixer can be the real backbone of a production when filming abroad.
In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what a fixer does, and how they can help you on your foreign shoot.
What is a fixer, exactly?
An international fixer can scout great spots remotely, sending detailed information, including photos and film clips, back to the producer.
For example, have you ever wondered how TV and film crews get permission to film in places like Delhi Airport? Or how they manage to shoot on a completely deserted London Bridge in movies like 28 Days Later? Well these things are made possible with the help of fixers. This talented bunch of people are responsible for all the background preparation that lets amazing scenes like these happen.
Fixers sort out filming permits for special locations - like airports - while liaising with police, transport bodies and local authorities beforehand to make sure everything goes swimmingly on the day.
Of course, a film crew working abroad will need special visas - fixers can sort those too.
Fixers also source local actors and extras via casting agents, along with behind-the-scenes crew such as camera operators, directors, gaffers, and sound engineers.
How about a nice place for the visiting crew and actors to stay? Lunches and bottled water on location? And what about costumes? A good fixer is a little like a walking and talking country guide.
Your friendly fixer can sort those, too.
A film crew can save a lot of cash and hassle by hiring equipment on location rather than taking all their own kit abroad with them. The fixer can help with this – as they’re the ones in the know when it comes to where to hire the right gear, near to the location.
It is up to the producer though to double check facts and the ultimate responsibility and liability rests on their shoulders.
There are two kinds of transport needs that a fixer can deal with: Firstly, they can make travel arrangements for the crew, cast and equipment to get around the country in relative comfort.
Secondly - for that scene-stealing vehicle money shot - a fixer knows where to hire the planes, cranes, boats, hard-to-find sports cars, or simply the humble old banger that you need to star in your production.
The Bottom Line
You need to work within a budget, and one of a fixer's services is to advise on costs from the location itself so that the production team can plan ahead and accurately price up filming in advance.
So a fixer is the person who deals with logistics and really makes things happen for film, TV and commercials crews. A multilingual, international fixer takes the worry out of the language barrier and uses their specialist local and cultural knowledge to deal quickly and efficiently with bureaucracy and paperwork - sourcing all the elements that a film team needs to work within the deadline and budget and create a sparkling result.
With many thanks to Neil Payne for his expertise.